Home - Denise Hughes Author Speaker Money Coach

Denise’s Blog

Money Insights, Wisdom, and More

Starting The Year Financially United


Prior to ever doing an annual cash flow plan, I wouldn’t have believed how the process intensified intimate connection with my husband, Greg, or how at peace in my heart I would feel. There is a “heart skippity do da” that is experienced,  starting the year off with united intentions, an honoring of individual intentions, and being on the same financial page….agreeing on how we desire our year to unfold and how we are going to fund our desires.

I’ve grown to love our January process of planning out our year together and Greg has too. It gives us both a warm fuzzy feeling to have accomplished something that at one time felt impossible.

It wasn’t always this way with us, the planning piece. We used to share our dreams with one another but didn’t do a plan to actually take action on our desires and make them happen. We would say things like, “wouldn’t it be nice to (fill in the blank), and that’s where it ended. This way of living became frustrating and depressing for us. Enough years of lost dreams shifted us into a different more satisfying process that I am sharing with you in this post.

You can modify this process to work for yourself  as an individual or with your partner.

We begin with an inquiry that goes like this:

  • What’s most important to us this year as a couple? How do we want to do fun this year?
  • What’s most important to us individually?
  • What experiences or moments are important to our hearts, so much so that we would feel regret if we didn’t make these happen?
  • What changes if any will happen with our regular monthly expenses, like the mortgage, healthcare, things of this nature?
  • How much do we want to save for retirement this year? How much do we want to give to charity?
  • Where oh where will we direct our dollars to go that brings us the most joy, pleasure + is in alignment with our deepest values.
  • What are our biggest priorities this year?
  • What earnings need to come in for us to create the year we desire? and…if there is a gap between our desires we want to fund and earnings, how do we close that gap?

We reflect, talk, reflect, talk some more, and then we sit and have a pow wow with our spreadsheet on the computer. Over the years the spreadsheet has become the tool in our marriage where we go to create, problem solve and explore possibilities. The spreadsheet houses all the parts of our money life, so we can play with creativity and move our money parts around like pieces of a puzzle, to see what we can make happen.

Each year is different for us. The last two years, we placed a priority on increased visits to the midwest and east coast to see our aging parents (while we look in the mirror and notice our own aging too). We opted to do less bigger vacations and more small retreats. We talked about doing some landscaping vs a new fence vs pavers and opted for the fence.

The process we use as a couple and the visual tool of the spreadsheet is a dynamic dynamite combo that supports us in reaching our goals each year…because it supports us being on the same financial page, united (for the most part) in our desires and dreams. Process + spreadsheet playing = intentions come true. Our dollars become the blood flow that funds our deepest desires and what is most important to us.

For me, this is a process I hold near and dear to my heart to begin our year. I hope this inspires you to create your own annual cash flow plan process and if you need help I am here.

Categories: Couples and Money | 0 COMMENTS



“How” we communicate can bring us closer together in a warm fuzzy kinda way or pull us apart with feelings of disconnection, separateness and heartfelt hurt. New research is now identifying communication behaviors that neuro-chemically bond or distance us. While the focus of this research was on leadership styles in corporate America, we can apply this to our personal money lives as well.

Judith E. Glaser and Richard D. Glaser have published research that shows:

  • when we have concern for others
  • are truthful about what is on our minds
  • approach discussions with the quality of curiosity
  • stay open and willing to practice difficult conversations
  • and anchor ourselves in a united vision

Then magic happens inside of our bodies…the above behaviors stimulate the hormone “oxytocin,” a feel good or “tend and befriend” hormone. Wouldn’t all of us want more oxytocin with us on our money dates?

Other communication behaviors, such as:

  • not trusting the intentions of another
  • or focusing on convincing your partner rather than understanding his/her viewpoint
  • pretending to listen all the while having thoughts going on in your head of your next response
  • and being highly emotional, which can distract us from active listening

Creates another form of hormone magic, where the stress hormone cortisol gets triggered and floods our body. “When we perceive rejection, criticism, when we feel marginalized or minimized, cortisol, shuts down the thinking center of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive. We often perceive even greater judgment and negativity than actually exists.”

“Cortisol can circulate in the body for up to 26 hours, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we ruminate about our fear, the longer the impact.” (taken from the Harvard Business Review)

Deep breath here! This is really important research to help us shape behaviors on our money dates that bring us together rather than separate us. See what practicing oxytocin communication behaviors does for your money dates…with yourself or your partner.

Categories: Couples and Money | 0 COMMENTS



Confidence. The “I can do” quality where inner calm + belief of being capable, dances with expansive ideas and a take action waltz! This quality can be both seen and felt energetically. In business and in life, it is a quality that attracts others to us. If you are an entrepreneur, it is a quality that can comfort a client’s nervous system and give them the feeling they are in capable hands. Clients that believe they are in capable hands are more willing to open their pocketbooks to the services they desire.

I was fascinated reading, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. A few pointers this book made were:

  • Women, more than men, often won’t apply for a job unless they think they are totally competent in the area they are applying for. The trend this books sees is that women will often choose less competitive fields of work such as human resources or marketing, over finance or investment banking. Men on the other hand lean into greater confidence when applying for a job by thinking, “Who wouldn’t want me?”
  • Men will externally attribute while women internally attribute. For example, if a man and woman are taking a rigorous course, a man might say, “Wow, this course kicked my butt,” while a woman would say something such as, “I’m not smart enough or good enough to be taking a course like this.”

Initiating and asking for what one wants is more associated with men than women. Women have a tendency to wait to be noticed, invited or would prefer someone provide the opportunity rather than directly asking for the opportunity. Men initiate salary negotiations 4X as often as women do and when women do negotiate they ask for 30% less money than men do.

Less confidence often leads to in-action while greater confidence leads to taking action on one’s behalf. Taking action is what opens us to greater flow in our lives, money being one form of that flow.

So How Does One Go About Creating Greater Inner Confidence?

Be aware of the energy you are carrying around. Fear and Excitement live on the same continuum. When approaching a new situation, view it as an adventure or a fun puzzle to solve rather than approaching the situation with fear and overwhelm, as if the situation was bigger than the internal abilities you bring to the situation.

On a physiological level, take great care of your body by eating healthy and getting the exercise you need. These basics help give our body, mind and spirit the energy needed to feel positive about ourselves as well as influence the hormones circulating in our bodies.

Let Go of the mindset that you aren’t enough. Focus on your strengths and what you bring to the table of business and life. If there are areas in your life where you need to close learning gaps to make you feel more confident, then take steps to close them.

Become emotionally resilient and surround yourself with people who build you up.

Each day focus on what you accomplished, not what is left to do. When I started to do this one, I felt a big shift in my physiology!

Be willing to step into discomfort in order to stretch yourself. Practice this daily in the way of baby steps. Begin asking for little things and then on to bigger things. See what happens. Put legs on your ideas!

Imagine a time and situation where you were very confident. Pull this memory up to support you in times you feel less confident.

Say “YES” to a new situation and then figure out how you will approach and step into the opportunity.

Bring out your inner toddler. Have you ever noticed how 2 year olds say, “I do it?” or some mutation of those words. And if you try to “do it for them,” there is usually some resistance involved. So bring out your inner “I do it!”

Can the quality of confidence increase your earning ceiling? You bet! Inner confidence can open doors of opportunity for you, that you can then step through, take action and show up for yourself in bigger ways than you are currently doing! And, opportunity opens you to greater flow, money being one form of that flow!

Here’s to believing in yourself + opening yourself to greater flow!

Categories: Business Development and Money | 3 COMMENTS



“A book about money for people who don’t love reading about finances!”

“Denise Hughes has provided readers with a practical and insightful guide to move from money anxiety to what I call ‘money harmony.’ Read it, do the simple and powerful exercises, and watch your relationship to money transform from stress to a feeling of peace.”

Olivia Mellan, money coach, psychotherapist, author

“Denise has lived through many of the economic challenges faced by her clients. Reading her book is like a personal counseling session in which she shares practical financial advice in a warm, personal, and empathic way. A wonderful way for people to understand their relationship with their money and make it work in more satisfying ways for them.”

Helga Hayse, author 

Earn, Spend, Save, Give should be required reading for everyone, regardless of age, income level, education, or marital status. Simple, organized, and wise. Denise’s nurturing approach blends seamlessly with her financial savvy to give readers a practical approach to finally making the money part of life  ‘work.’ I’ve read countless books on managing finances and this one surpasses them all.”

B. Michelle Pippin, founder, www.womenwhowow.com and Business Strategist

This book is a “must read” for anyone learning to manage their money, or find themselves out of control, and needing a financial lifeline.  Denise shares her own experiences of getting out of debt with humor and compassion.  The stories she shares create wonderful images and offers hope regardless of your current financial situation.   I felt like we were sitting in her living room, having an intimate conversation about life and money.  

Cathie Orlowski, Event Coordinator Financial Conversations With Heart

I love this book! As a money coach I have used it as a reference in my money mindset course. Denise offers examples from her coaching practice and explains how she came to this work herself. She also includes practical tools. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to create a healthy relationship to money.

Cindy Morgan-Jaffe, Money Coach Washington DC

As a clinician I see Denise’s book working at a practical, logical, and nervous system level helping to lower people’s money fears. In this book, Denise helps people identify their financial behaviors and how theses behaviors influence healthy or unhealthy financial decisions. The book is smart, articulate, and practical. People make behavioral changes after reading her book and feel a deep sense of relief, no longer trapped by the anxiety of their money anxiety. As a couple’s therapist I give this book to my clients as a resource to support the couple’s work. Denise’s human and practical approach uncovers the knots that tie relationships up financially and offers sensible steps to loosen up the gridlock. This book is a brilliant resource for everyone and I recommend this book to everyone without hesitation.

Sara Bunce, Psychotherapist


I have known of Denise Hughes’ reputation as a financial coach but have not worked with her personally, so was interested in reading the book. This is not a hefty, academic tome that will scare the heck out of you. The author manages to create a tone that is warm, inviting and nonthreatening. She puts money matters into a context that includes the whole of a person’s life and consciousness – which is much appreciated! But what I like best are the pragmatic suggestions that she offers in the “Toolbox Section”. It is a great combination of changing one’s mindset along with practical guidelines that can be used immediately. Highly recommended!

Randy Kasper, Psychotherapist

Many people who most need financial advice, guidance, and perspective that will allow them to turn it around, are too intimidated to read the average book that addresses these issues. For the fearful, phobic, and anyone feeling that they have made a mess of it…this is a book to love. Denise Hughes has years of experience counseling, coaching and advising others in both money and addictions work, but it’s her big heart and underlying beauty of her spiritual perspective that will help people through their money conflicts. I love this book because it’s accessible while being powerful. This is a book that will ease anxieties, take money shame out of the closet, and help people put their financial lives together in ways that will let them sleep at night.

Lisa Briggs, Intuitivebody.com, Psychotherapist

This book is a work of art! It was enjoyable to read and I kept wanting to read more. I am fascinated by the psychology that the author included behind why we do things or don’t do things. Denise Hughes did a beautiful job of blending strategies, psychology and stories. I can tell that this book took a lot of hard work because it feels effortless and simple. It’s perfect. Well done!

Denise Michaud, Long Term Care Specialist

I really enjoyed this book! It’s much deeper than a typical personal finance book. It explores your relationship with money and attitudes towards money beginning with childhood. It illustrates the ways that money can be a stressor in ways that you don’t often realize.

I love the financial “Vision Board Tool” …it’s easy to read, and gives you simple exercises and tips to move into a state of harmony and abundance with your financial life.

David Dillulo, Global Drum Circle

PLEASE ADD YOUR COMMENTS AFTER YOU’VE READ EARN SAVE SPEND GIVE…4 things to do with your money and how to make it all work! 




Twenty-two years ago my husband + I created money vows that we said out loud to one another. Prior to that we kept our silent money expectations about our partnership in our heads (not recommended). When we took our marriage vows, I can honestly say I was fairly unconscious that our collective behavior had anything to do with us creating a state of “richer” or “poorer.” My naivety at the time, most likely thought…”hey, we will deal with whatever life brings us,” rather than…”hey, lets get in alignment from the get go + create “for richer!”

To create “for richer,” many conversations are needed to talk about behaviors that create alignment supporting a united vision. I encourage all the couples I work with to create money vows when we begin our work together + to reshape those vows as needed. A vow is an agreement that speaks to how we intend to show up in our relationships. The work is matching up our verbal agreements with supporting behaviors! Sometimes easier said than done!


1. Vows keep money conversations happening on a regular basis with your partner + can take your relationship to new heights with greater intimacy.

2. When we talk about money + come into alignment with our partners, the body secretes oxytocin, called the “tend + befriend” hormone + we get that feeling of being close, bonded + that warm honey feeling circulating in our body.

3. A vow helps a couple establish priorities + to triage what is most important financially + emotionally + then your money can fund your highest priorities.

4. Vows help minimize conflict + the risk of the relationship breaking up over money. Researchers at Utah State University found that couples who disagreed once a week about their finances were twice as likely to divorce as couples who fought less than once a month.

5. Less fights can enhance your sex life!

6. Vows backed up by congruent behavior supporting them decreases the stress hormones of cortisol + adrenaline in our bodies. These hormones often place our brains + nervous system in a “fight or flight” mode of response with one another.

7. You can show your kids how to talk about money + be role models for them in how to relate to money matters in a healthy way.

8. Vows can help you reach your dreams faster because you are working to be on the same page financially.

9. Saying “I do” to your intentions means saying “I do not” to others + as a couple you get clear on what you are saying “YES” to and “NO” to.

10. You can experience blessing after blessing by co-creating a life of your unique desires as a couple!


“We agree to create a life of abundance in all forms, money being one of those forms. We will honor each other’s contributions to our partnership, holding time + money + energy as equal forms of contribution.  We will each earn to our potential + be equal partners in decision making with all money matters with the goal of building wealth instead of creating debt. We promise to full transparency of all accounts, free of secrets.

We agree to step into uncomfortable conversations with curiosity + discovery rather than fear + judgement if we observe ourselves or each other jeopardizing the integrity of our money vows.”

Categories: Couples and Money | 0 COMMENTS